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The Ellipse - Problem 15

Teacher/Instructor Alissa Fong
Alissa Fong

MA, Stanford University
Teaching in the San Francisco Bay Area

Alissa is currently a teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area and Brightstorm users love her clear, concise explanations of tough concepts

We need three pieces of information to write the equation for an ellipse: whether the major axis is vertical or horizontal, the values of "a" and "b," and the coordinates of the center. When looking at a graph, you can find "a" and "b" by counting units from the center of the ellipse to the top and side. If the ellipse is "surfboard" style, meaning its major axis is vertical, then the x^2 term will be above b^2, and if it is "hamburger style," then x^2 will be above a^2. From there, plus in the coordinates of the vertex (h, k), being sure to change the + - signs in the parentheses. An ellipse equation in standard form should always be equal to one.

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